Reviews

fulfilled/complete

04/08/2004 | Silentuproar.com | www.silentuproar.com | Feature
Everyone in the indie music community is well aware of The Faint and their irresistible brand of electronic dance music, but what you might not be familiar with is Faint bass player Joel Peterson's other band, Broken Spindles. Solely the project of Joel, his laptop, and his creative songwriting, Broken Spindles have stepped it up a notch with the release of Fulfilled/Complete and this time included full vocal tracks. To help celebrate what is clearly Joel's best music to date, we talked with him about The Faint, working alone, and what's so great about Saddle Creek.

Silent Uproar: How are you doing today?

Joel: Well, I think I'm doing all right. The past couple of days I've been sorta fighting the beginnings of sickness, so...

SU: Yeah, get plenty of rest.

Joel: I slept very well last night... feeling all right now. Thing seems to be moving to my chest a little bit.

SU: All right well I'll go ahead and get started. What are you hoping to accomplish with the Broken Spindles project? Is it just another creative outlet or is there something that you hope to do with the project that you haven't been able to do with The Faint?

Joel: I think both. You know, I mean I feel like I'm just sort of at a point in my life where pretty much all I want to do is make stuff. So I just spend my time creating just whatever I can, whatever I have an idea for, and a big portion of that is musical ideas. So yeah, a lot of what I think I'm interested in at that moment, is not necessarily stuff for the Faint or that would really work in the Faint, so you know I just kinda do these things on my own and just complete the idea as best I can and you know, I let everybody in the Faint hear it and if it inspires them to do something then sometimes things start out that way and it end up as a Faint song. Other times, it's like "no, I think you did really goodl on you own. I got nothing for it", you know. And it's kinda Broken Spindle stuff. So yeah, it's a little creative outlet as well as something different, you know, than I do on my day job I guess.

SU: How does the song writing process go for something like this as opposed to having to run things through a group of people?

Joel: It's very, very different. Uh, you know. I sit down and write all this stuff in my house in my little studio room and I'll have some sort of idea for anything, whether it be just a few piano notes together then I'll just start building upon that and just keep going with it or you know, some idea for even just like a type of beat and then I just start working on that and work on the sound and then generally if I get that far on something, then a base line usually pops into my head and I figure that out and keep going. So, basically I would sorta say my process of writing songs is to not stop myself as things are flowing. You know, just try to turn off that sort of editor that comes in to play sometimes that sort of makes things difficult to proceed and if you're thinking about everything so intently it's kinda hard to move forward. I just try to turn that off and just go with my bet on stuff and then I turn that editor on later. ... and see if whatever I do is any good or not.

SU: Is success with one more rewarding than the other?

Joel: I must say I do feel more accomplishment when we complete a Faint song that we all really like, just because I know it has to go through five heads before it's done, and I just think that seems like it's a lot more special. Just knowing all the guys in the band and just working with everybody for so long, I feel like that's a bigger accomplishment. For us all to complete one thing that we are all very proud of. To make myself proud that doesn't seem as much of an accomplishment.

SU: How is getting back in the studio with the Faint and having to go through that writing process after you had kinda done the solo experience. You know, before, you didn't have that other outlet so you really didn't have that sense of doing things, but since you had done a Broken Spindles record, or I guess two, before you went back in the studio this last time, how were things different?

Joel: I think it's actually helping the Faint record a little bit, just by having someone else in the group that's a little more familiar with studio stuff in general. I've worked with Mike Mogus on both the Spindles record and we're working with him on this one and I kinda anticipate or you know, think I can at least anticipate things that are going on in his head and I feel like that at times that helps us be a little bit more efficient and all that. I think that just being around studios in general has definitely helped the Faint record.

SU: Do you think you'll always probably work with Mike or Presto?

Joel: Um.... I can't say always but I definitely think he's an amazing producer, musician, engineer, mixer...you know, and the list can go on and on. I yeah respect his ideas and his integrity to the, what's that phrase? to the umpteenth?...I don't know.

SU: Yeah, I think it kinda goes two ways. Like in one way, once you get comfortable with somebody and like you were saying, you can kinda almost anticipate what they're thinking, it would help things along, but then on the other hand, you also might be stifling some ideas that, you know, that having a totally new outlook on it might bring into it, so...

Joel: Yeah, that's definitely one way to look at it. But one thing I do enjoy about working with Mike is he's always trying to think of new ideas for himself. Whatever project he's working on, he's always open to hear any sort of stupid ideas that any band mate comes up with, you know? And I think that's pretty important to work with somebody just being open to things.

SU: I've read that Broken Spindles Music started out as a sound tract for a friend's film project.

Joel: Right.

SU: Did you ever think it would really evolve this far, to two albums?

Joel: No, it never occurred to me in the early stages, you know - I had sort of limited views of creating music on my own, or did back then, and he just thought of the idea and I thought it'd be really fun. At the time we were taking a bit of a break just from Faint stuff. We'd just got done from some touring and all that and we were just taking a quick breather and I said yeah, I've got time and that sounds like fun. So yeah, I just started working on it and ideas just sorta kept coming to me and I just had a good time doing it so I just kept on with it.

SU: So, why the inclusion of vocals on this record versus the instrumental style of the first one?

Joel: Well, I think this sorta happened.... I'd written a few things for the new record and then I was just writing a piece and it was just kinda of simple little guitar line. It was actually the song "To Die for Death" and you know, generally something will pop into my head as in what's next, or what does this need now, and the vocal part came into my head for the first time, so I said well all right, lets keep going with that. So yeah I just wrote lyrics and then just kinda said well all right, that's something different for me. I better try not to not think about that for a day or two then get back to it and see if I'm ruining things or what's going on with that. I listened to it again and thought yeah, that sounds fine.

I sort of enjoyed the process of putting thoughts into words and all that. That was relatively new to me and I found that, or at least felt like; I had some things I wanted to write songs about.

SU: So what was it with the first record that made it feel complete without the vocals. I mean it seems like naturally you would kinda think that into the music, but what was it that made it feel complete without having them in there early on?

Joel: Um...it's tough to say exactly. I think with a lot of the instrumentation on the first record, even the instrumental pieces on the new one, generally there are things that sorta take over what would be a vocal aspect. You know, whether it just be some sort of lead that carries you through the tune melodically or just some point of interest that you sort of follow throughout a piece rather than just part, part, part. So I'm guessing that I was just in that frame of mind then, so it's running a little more like that but yeah, once vocal ideas started coming, then I just started going with that, but I still have instrumental ideas so...

SU: I guess to me in a way it almost seemed like an evolution in the music like maybe at first you were stepping out there a bit with the solo album but you weren't ready to throw it all in there yet, but now that you're a little more comfortable with it, maybe the vocals came in to mind and you became confident of your vocals and it kinda evolved that way.

Joel: Yeah, I mean well that very well might be the subconscious coming through like that.

SU: Or is that over-analyzing of the whole thing. (laughs)

Joel: Uh huhhh. (laughs)

SU: Well have projects like the Dance Macabre record or any other just kind of instrumental bands had any influence or your music or the thoughts and ideas you're putting in to the new sound?

Joel: I would say yeah. I mean, generally most new things I hear, especially things I'm so closely related to, influence things that I do and things that I'm aware of and on the most basic level it's like 'Oh yeah.' Yeah, all that stuff definitely had a hand in where I am currently musically.

SU: Well, I know that with the first album it was made on your laptop and then you had to kinda recreate that sound live. What was the process like this time around? Did you start out in the studio?

Joel: Yeah, mostly just me alone in a room just working through idea. This one I actually had a little better studio set up where I could actually get out of just the laptop. I actually wrote some of the things on guitar or I would just come up with a beat on the computer and then start playing real bass on it and things like that as opposed to programming everything. Just had a little more of my playing on the initial writing stuff.

SU: And what about this new tour coming up. Are you going to have the visual show accompanying it again or is it going to be more of a live music type show.

Joel: Umm, I'm definitely doing a video. I'm about half done with it right now and I'm pretty excited about that. I've just always been interested in films and cinematography and just writing and everything like that and this once again offers me some other ways of putting ideas out there, so I kinda of like doing that cause it's totally different from other things I do I guess.

Other than that, I've been working on video stuff and it will be..... I'm going to have another guy play with me, so it'll probably be a little more involved with live stuff, but also include the video stuff.

SU: Cool. It makes for a neat show atmosphere to have both the visual element and the music element. You don't see that a lot and when bands do it, it's just kinda of refreshing, something different.

Joel: Yeah, I hope people like it. It's a hell of a lot of work, though. Hopefully someone appreciates it!

SU: Well, which type of show do you prefer? Would you rather play something like that or do you prefer the Faint type show, or is it two totally separate things.

Joel: Yeah, it's really different. I think I have a pretty fond appreciation for a lot of different kind of live approaches. Early on, just coming on from just sorta hard core and punk indie rock world where they're performance based and just a lot of I guess rocking and energy going on. I'm a huge fan of that sort of thing, but also am a fan of electronic music and appreciate the visual aspects that some people try to include. I don't think there's a right way for anybody.... I'm glad that people are trying different stuff.

SU: I think I read in an interview somewhere where you mentioned something about where bands like Plaid or Squarepusher, bands that pretty much run the show off a laptop, and don't have visual elements going, but the guys are just sitting there behind laptops the whole time, and you really kind of lose a lot of it, you know. I think it's great to be able to kinda combine the visual side of it and the pre-programmed side of it but also play live with it too.

Joel: Yeah, at times I find it hard to relate to computer art, you know, laptop or a person with a laptop. It's like, you know, it's not much to see there. So at that point it's like well, wouldn't I just rather hear this on my home stereo where it probably sounds a little better. And I could pay a little more attention. Yeah.

SU: Well, why the jump from Tiger Style to Saddle Creek this time around. I know Saddle Creek is kinda of more the kinda home friendly label, but why did you originally go with Tiger Style with the first record and not Saddle Creek right away?

Joel: I think I originally decided to do that because pretty much up until that point, every record I'd ever been involved with had come out on Saddle Creek and so that was kinda all I knew as far as labels and how they work and everything, and I think I just wanted to try something else. I just wanted to see what else was out there if everybody else was as great as Saddle Creek.

Yeah, essentially I found out that, they're not. I mean, people at Tiger Style, the genuinely liked the record, the generally did everything they could, but I don't know, without having any prior relationship to them, I didn't really know them as people, and I just felt like there was a lot of miscommunications mainly because we didn't know each other. And that sort of proved frustrating for me and them. So, when I started thinking I wanted to make another record, I just called them and said, I don't think either of us are extremely happy with our current situation, and they're like, 'Yeah, I definitely understand you desire to look elsewhere.' So they were very, very nice about that and very understanding and I sorta went over to Saddle Creek and said hey, what do ya'll think?

SU: That's cool. It's interesting because I had talked to Denver not too long ago and was talking to him about the same deal basically of why he decided to go Jade Tree with the Statistics as opposed to doing something with Saddle Creek and he was saying the same type thing where he just kinda wanted to see what else was out there and wanted to try something different just to see how it was and I think he's pretty happy with Jade Tree on that Statistics side of things, but it's interesting to see how things work within the Saddle Creek family.

Joel: Yeah, it is. I mean, I mean I've known everybody at Saddle Creek for just so many years now that it's almost like what we were talking about with Mike Mogus you know, they know what I'm going to have a problem with and I know what they're going to have a problem with before it ever even comes up. It just makes things run a lot smoother.

SU: When speaking of Saddle Creek, we've talked to varied bands on the label, and I'm always curious about how the bands feel about as far as Saddle Creek's kinda limited roster. Do you think that if they got bigger they would lose that kinda overall feel of family atmosphere, or are they kinda holding back and do you think they should be pushing for more?

Joel: Um, that's tough to say. I think they are constantly looking for bands or artists that they're interested in whether they're from Omaha or not. It's hard trying to find someone that, lets say even if you like to record, you connect with that person and with their ethic and their personalities it's a hard thing. But you know, they have some newer records coming out this year that I think are going to be pretty exciting. I guess Broken Spindles could be one of those.

SU: Well, it's a pretty political time of year. What's your opinion on what needs to happen with our administration?

Joel: Well, first and foremost, I think everyone needs to make sure to vote.

SU: Right on.

Joel: Because otherwise, hopefully the same bullshit will never happen again, but yeah, I think the sooner we can get George Bush out of office the better off the whole universe will be.

SU: Yeah, I think that sentiment is pretty universal throughout most of the music industry right now.

Joel: Yeah, I hope it goes beyond that as well.

SU: When music isn't keeping you busy, what other things do you enjoy doing?

Joel: Uh.... Not busy? (laughs) Yeah, what would I like to do?

SU: Or maybe, what would you do if you had free time, not that you do have free time.

Joel: Yeah, I probably would just try to take a trip with my girlfriend and just go see some place new in the world that I've never been and that she's never been and probably just try to relax and not think about music for a while.

SU: Do you have any other musical involvements other than Broken Spindles and the Faint?

Joel: Yeah, I just started playing in a group called Beep Beep and that's actually going to be coming out on Saddle Creek in the late summer as well.

SU: Cool.

Joel: Yeah, they're from Omaha and keep you ears out for that I guess.

SU: What kind of music is it?

Joel: Um, it's more rooted in rock and um, but with pretty artful overtones.

SU: It's always great describing how something sounds, isn't it?

Joel: Yeah, it's not easy. But, it's a lot of fun and I've known these guys for years and years and always loved their songs. They had a bass player and she decided to go away to get her masters degree or something and well I said, alright, I'd like to play with you guys.

SU: You don't have anything else going on then?

Joel: Other than those three things, that's about what I do musically.

SU: Well, have things changed for you with the relative success of the last Faint record?

Joel: It's kinda hard to say. I mean, you know, it would be kinda stupid to say 'no, they haven't,' but I can't really say what exactly. I think we all sort of keep everything close to us and so a lot of what's happening elsewhere doesn't exactly get here or get to us. I mean, we basically have holed ourselves up in our practice space for the last year just writing songs and doing the best we can and getting ready for this record that we're recording right now and I guess we feel a little isolated at times- it's sort of self-imposed, and sort of geographical. I mean, we're a little ways away from the coast where things move a little quicker as far as what's happening at the moment. So, things definitely have changed, but it's hard to exactly say how.

SU: Right. Well, with releasing this Broken Spindles record now, and then I don't imagine the Faint record's too far away how are you going to be juggling the two?

Joel: Well, hopefully not too difficult. That's sort of something I've been constantly dealing with just time management if you will, and I do everything I can for everything I'm involved with. Hopefully that will never change. I don't ever want to just let things happen and just be half-ass about anything. I want to do everything I can to make things the best that I think they can be and if that's not happening, then I have something to worry about I guess.
fulfilled/complete

fulfilled/complete

LP / CD / MP3